(In reply) To Miss FALKLAND.
Wishing grace, mercy, and peace.
MANY thanks are due to my dear friend for the sweet account she has given us of the last moments of our much respected and faithful friend and pastor in the Lord Jesus Christ; of whom it may be truly said that he was a burning and a shining light, and a zealous, indefatigable minister of the everlasting gospel, doing the work of an evangelist faithfully. "They that turn many to righteousness shall shine as the stars for ever and ever."
When, in consequence of his sudden and severe indisposition, I called upon him at Pentonville, after affectionate inquiries respecting the family, he told me very seriously that his work was done, and he should not be much longer with us. Alarmed at the remark, I asked him if he had any serious impressions upon his mind that the Lord was about to remove him. To which he replied, that he heartily prayed God he would, for he had laboured above forty years in the vineyard, and was tired of this miserable sinful world. He then said that he had not walked in craftiness, nor handled the word of God deceitfully, and that he was now in the enjoyment of those blessed truths he had so long preached to others. Speaking with him upon certain points of experience, he said that during former illnesses he had never been indulged with such sweet and heavenly views as had abode with him of late: that he knew nothing of those ecstatic joys he had heard of in others; but felt and enjoyed a solid permanent peace the effect of pardoned sin, and fruit of the holy and blessed Spirit. He then observed that, though formerly he used to take great pleasure in the works of creation, he had now no delight in any thing beneath the sun. After some further conversation about the heavy trials that he had long foreseen hung over the church, he told me it was his intention to go the next morning into the country, being determined to settle his temporal concerns and make his will - all which he had arranged in his mind, but could not execute at home on account of the frequent interruptions he there met with. And this resolution he confirmed when I saw him again, for the last time, at Tunbridge Wells, two days before his death, saying that these things had been the subject of his prayers for the last eight months of his life.
Wishing to obtain what further information I could of all that passed during the few last days of his illness, Lady Sanderson has kindly favoured me with the following particulars:-
The conversation that led to the composition of his epitaph I will briefly state; at least as much of it as I can remember. It was as follows: -
"Notwithstanding the opposition I
He then spoke of the judgments that had befallen his enemies, and with much warmth added -
"Those that have so cruelly treated
- He then said, "Take a pen, and write my epitaph as " follows -
"HERE LIES THE COALHEAVER
- (Remember, "I will have it so) And, as though it were but one sentence, he went on -
" BELOVED OF
" W. H. S. S."
He was often so overpowered with the goodness of God to him, that he would cry as a child, saying,
I never heard one murmuring word from him during his illness; for, though his bodily sufferings were great, he was calm and resigned, and patiently waited his dismissal, only once saying, "He tarries long. Why is his chariot so long in coining? "
Having no idea it would be the last time when I took my leave of him at Tunbridge Wells the day before his death, I was the more alarmed when the melancholy tidings of that event reached me; which will no doubt cause great searchings of heart, and be seriously felt and lamented by those who have experienced the powerful effects of his ministry, and the benefits of his affectionate and edifying communications. Our loss is great indeed, and apparently severe. However, we do not part as those who never expect to meet again, where sorrow and sighing shall flee away - where "the wicked cease from troubling, and the weary are for ever at rest." Let us therefore endeavour not to sorrow as those without hope, but to kiss the rod and him that hath appointed it, recollecting that our loss is his eternal gain; for of our much valued friend we may safely adopt -the language of Paul - Having fought the good fight, and kept the faith, he has finished his course with joy, and is gone to receive the reward of inheritance promised to the saints in light. - May we die the death of the righteous, and our latter end be like his! Even so, Amen.
The malicious aspersions you hint at, as having been circulated respecting Lady Sanderson's conduct, compel me to add my feeble testimony against all such diabolical insinuations, which are as cruel as they are unjust. I am a living witness of the love and esteem that subsisted between her Ladyship and her late consort, who has more than once, at distant periods, told me confidentially of the tender and affectionate regard she bore him, and of her disinterested confidence in placing the whole of her property unreservedly at his disposal. "Envy slays the silly one;" but "he that feareth God shall come forth of them all." And may that God, who defendeth the cause of the widow, give her a full reward for all her tenderness and care of his faithful, favoured servant - our invaluable friend!
Mrs. B. unites in affectionate regard to the Ladies, with whom wishing you all every blessing our heavenly Father has to bestow, I remain
Bolt Court, Judy 7, 1813.